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Far Cry 5 Review

(Bonus Review) Although not on Game Pass this game is often on sale for $15 on the Microsoft store.

First Impressions

In my first couple hours of Ubisoft’s Far Cry 5 I experienced the heavily narrative prologue where I began to learn about the religious cult “The Project at Eden’s Gate” led by “the father” Joseph Seed. This antagonist did not immediately appeal to me like previous villains like Vaas or Pagan Min had. Predictably, I soon found myself on my own surrounded by an open world of enemies looking for me and trying to kill me.

The main character quickly shifts from trying to find a way out to leading the resistance charge against the cult. I enjoyed a segment early on where I heard over the radio the voices of a dozen or so resistance members reaching out and letting me know they were out there and that they needed my help. It gave some extra motivation to get out there and feel like I am doing good and not just killing for no reason, which is a feeling the series perpetuates and is self-aware of, making for interesting moments of self-reflection in previous titles. Like in those games, I slowly made my way in this world by looting and shooting and taking down enemy outposts, taking them as my own. It was a nice change of pace to be able to customize my character, but the it did not help the protagonist from feeling flat.

I enjoyed the first few hours of this game as I struggled with limited resources and really worked to find out where I should go and what I should do. This lost its appeal after a while when I was able to buy everything I needed and rarely felt challenged from there.

Gameplay

Combat

This first-person looter shooter does not do anything to push the genre.. The protagonist, Rook, can run and jump and climb and control various vehicles along their way. With upgrades, Rook can even use a grappling hook, parachute, or even use a wing suit. These are optional and are primarily explored in side-quests from what I have experienced, but can add some verticality to otherwise flat gunfight scenarios.

Stealth plays a role in combat much like in previous installments, but how far the stealth aspects went depended on me. When entering enemy outposts I could use a scope to point out enemies and try to learn their patterns before engaging. I could then lure them away from others and quietly take them out, or I could use I silenced sniper or a bow-and-arrow to pick them off from afar one by one. These stealth techniques would allow me to take over the camp without the alarm being raised and reinforcements being called, giving me bonus currency. However, if that failed, I could just go in aggressively and take out any number of cultists that came my way with the biggest guns I had. I was given many options in how to go about these set piece scenarios which is why they were the most enjoyable parts of the game for me.

The game incentivizes stealth, as it recognizes it is the more challenging option, but it is really unfortunate how easy it is to take out every enemy even when the reinforcements come and the alarms are raised. I found myself dying on purpose in spots in order to retry the scenario while keeping completely stealthy. This was just because it was what I wanted to do, though, not because I desired the minor reward for doing so, and not because I wanted to waste less resources, which felt like a major misstep for the game.

It is worth noting that the AI in this game also is no improvement on past titles or other first-person shooters. Enemies also felt strangely imbalanced at times as most enemies could literally be taken out by a single shot from a pistol while those holding flamethrowers would absorb a full round from a machine gun.

Progression

The progression system involved me earning perks by completing certain side missions or by showing certain skills like killing 15 enemies with bows etc. These perks could then be spent on higher gun and ammo capacities, faster swimming, lockpicking, quicker reloading, etc. Hypothetically this let me customize my experience but aside from acquiring the extra gun slots none of it was necessary or really made the game feel much different.

The perk system is at least accessible, though. Compare this to the crafting mechanic, which allows me to turn my loot into usable items, that is too briefly introduced and completely unnecessary to succeeding in the game. This empty mechanic made looting feel almost worthless.

Missions

The main story had me guided by a ally in his bunker as I went out trying to disrupt cult forces in any way I could. This could involve taking out landmarks, killing high profile cultists, finding cult loot stashes, or taking over enemy outposts. I would even find various “stunt-man” missions which maybe were intended to give some variety in the game play but actually took me out of the role of a scared lonely deputy. I would also come to meet up with those resistance members who needed my help and could even get them to join by my side after freeing them, which was rewarding from a gameplay perspective but I was disappointed that each character felt so flat.

Doing all these things lead me toward main story missions to move the game forward, but as I alluded to earlier, none of these missions or objectives were as fun as when I was invading an outpost and deciding what the most efficient path would be to turning off the alarms. And even these, again, were flawed by the fact it was easy to gun down enemies even if stealth failed.

There is a dense open world in Far Cry 5, filled with animals, enemies, and loot to discover. But for me, the game was largely unexciting outside of outpost missions, and I did not feel incentivized to explore on my own.

I did run into some interesting quirks along my path, like completing a mission accidentally when I truck I was tasked with destroying was totaled by a cow. These chance happenings and the ability to complete missions in any way possible can make for truly memorable experiences but the missions in this game were more monotonous and frustrating than I was hoping for.

Lasting Impressions

Story

The Seed family were all deep characters and the story is shrouded in mystery and symbolism and filled with memorable moments. The story is broken up into three different regions led by their own villains and having their own quirks, but they weren’t different enough in my opinion to justify tripling the length of the game. This added to the fact that my mute character and stiff allies added little to the experience.

The tone of game was disjointed from its story, with the game being over the top and pushing me to blow up stuff and do crazy things, while the story was a very serious examination of this religious cult that forced me to look inward and think deeply about its meaning.

Takaway

Far Cry 5 is not a leap for the franchise, with stale combat, AI, and progression systems. The game delivers on its promises, though, letting me let loose to kill as many crazy cultists as I could with everything from bows to rocket-launchers to helicopters. The gameplay just felt shallow and unrewarding aside from the occasional tactical scenarios. The story and villains are special and thought-provoking, but the gameplay was not rewarding enough to push me to the end.

I would still recommend this game to fans of open-world shooters or of other Ubisoft games who are just looking for some fun action and interesting story, even though the game is not quite as gripping to me as others in the series and grows stale quickly.

Pros

Fun gunplay and weapon choices

Some interesting tactical scenarios

Interesting story and villains

Cons

Stale combat and progression systems

Unbalanced gameplay options

Shallow open world

Overall

5/10

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